Seamus Carter, athlete, Gaeilgóir, patriot

Seamus Carter was a fluent Irish speaker who was a member of the Gaelic League since its inception. He was the secretary of the Oireachtas when it was held in Galway in 1913, the famous photograph of which hangs in the Town Hall.

He was a noted athlete in his young days, a prominent member of the Galway City Harriers. He was an avid reader and was regarded as a brilliant conversationalist whose stories were often laced with humour. He started work as a teacher in Galway, but then joined the county council with which he worked in the Courthouse for more than 30 years, ending up in charge of the expenditure branch. He lived in Shantalla, with his wife, five sons, and one daughter.

He was an ardent Nationalist, a life-long worker in the Irish-Ireland movement in the west who first attracted attention when the proclamation of King George V ceremony was being held in front of the Courthouse. He protested at this gesture of imperialism and from that day on he did everything in his power to show that Ireland was a country apart from England in ideals, language, and history. He joined the Republican pipe band Cumann Píobairí na Gaillimhe and travelled with it to Dublin to play at O’Donovan Rossa’s funeral.

He was one of the pioneers of the Sinn Fein movement in Galway. Courage was one of his attributes, he was combative but only where Irish Independence was concerned. In 1914, when Galway had gone ‘recruiting mad’ and there was a split in the Volunteers, a mob attacked a small group of Republican Volunteers to try to take their rifles. The only arrest made was Carter, who was given a prison sentence for trying to defend himself and his rifle. In 1915, he was one of the team that set out to disrupt a major British army recruiting meeting in the Town Hall. Carter and Tom Hynes cut the electricity wires to the hall as some volunteers inside let off stink bombs which caused the building to be evacuated very quickly. He was one of those rounded up by the authorities on Easter Tuesday after the Rising. He was put on a minesweeper in the docks called The Guillemot together with Mícheál Ó Droighneáin, George Nicholls, Frank Hardiman, and Pádraic Ó’Máille. They spent two days and three nights on board, anchored in the roads by day, and cruising between Galway and Aran by night. They were transferred to a minesweeper The Laburnum where they joined other prisoners and eventually brought to Frongoch in Wales, where they were interned. It became known as ‘The School of Revolution’ and while there, he gave Irish language lessons to many of the internees.

During the War of Independence, he arranged with Professor Tom Dillon that essential county council books would be in a certain place at a certain date. Two UCG students, Jack Darcy and Michael Dwyer, together with Kilfeather and Martin Brennan, were involved in the raid. Carter walked out of the courthouse under the eyes of a sentry at the Town Hall (where there was a British army unit stationed at the time ) a few minutes before the boys arrived. They walked into the building, took the books, and put them into a car which Bill Garvey had just driven up. Garvey drove the books out to the sandy bridge on the crossroads between the Tuam and Oranmore roads, and the Castlegar men took them over. This greatly disrupted the official administration of the county.

The Old Tuam Society is hosting a lecture this evening at 8pm in Tuam Library. The title is ‘The North Galway Flying Column and the Evolution of Guerilla Warfare in Galway 1920-21’. It will be given by Dr Conor McNamara and all are welcome.


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